Friday, September 21, 2012

Food and Wine Magazine Giveaway

For all my foodie friends, I have a great Giveaway for you this week - a free subscription (14 monthly issues) to Food and Wine Magazine that is filled with recipes, wine, food travel guides and more!  And that's not all, it comes with an additional free Cooking Light Kid Approved Cookbook that will get your kids inspired and active in the kitchen.  Maybe it's because this summer was hotter than ever, but I'm excited to see my coffee table filled with food magazines this Fall.  Can't wait to get inspired and start cooking up some soup and stew!  Good luck, all.

In order to qualify:

1.  Follow my blog by pushing the "join this site" button.
2. "Like" Because of Madalene's Facebook page, here.
3. Tell me what dishes you are looking forward to this Fall.

Entry will end Tuesday night and I will announce the winner on Wednesday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Potato Patata Skins

I had some leftover mozzarella cheese and spicy pepperoni from last week's Pizza Quesadillas.  So I thought I would use them again for another traditional appetizer turned Italian - Potato Patata Skins!  Now, don't get me wrong, I love bacon, but do you ever find it a bit of a chore to cook up?  It's messy whether it's in the pan or oven and it takes time to get it extra crispy... just the way I like it.  So I discovered this week that using pepperoni instead for a crispy topping (like potato skins or stuffed potatoes) is such a great alternative!  Not only is it faster to cook and just as crispy, but its flavor is more intense and its spice adds a nice kick to whatever you top it on.  If only Grandma Madalene knew...

What you'll need: serves 3 - 4

3 russet potatoes
canola oil
to taste kosher salt
1/2 stick pepperoni (remove skin, cut in 1/4 inch cubes)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
to taste black ground pepper
sour cream for dipping

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Wash, scrub and pat dry the potato.  KEY:  To ensure a crispy skin, brush a thin layer the canola oil all over the skin of the potato and drizzle on kosher salt for extra flavor.  To avoid a potato explosion, with a fork poke a few holes throughout the potato.  Uncovered and on a foil lined baking sheet, place in the oven for about 45 mins or until tender. 

While those are baking, toss the cubed pepperoni into a small pan over medium heat.  Let them render and crisp up for about 5 mins.  Toss every couple of mins for even crispiness.  Drain on a paper towel and set aside. 

Once the potatoes are out of the oven, let cool for about 10 mins for easier handling.  Cut the potatoes in half by length.  Scoop out the middle of the potato flesh but leave about a 1/2 inch around the edges.  Cut each half in half again (by length) and again (by width) to create bite size triangular pieces.  Lay back down on the foil lined baking sheet.  Layer on the mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and black pepper.  Pop them under the broiler for about 5 mins or just until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.  Serve with sour cream and eat while they're hot!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mango Italian Soda

When I think of Italian Sodas, it immediately transports me into a 1950's rustic Italian Soda Shop!  Do those exist?  Well, they do in my dream world!  Instead of traditional flavors like raspberry or strawberry, I decided to add a modern spin to this bubbly and creamy drink by using fresh Mangos.  Its tang cuts some of the sweetness and its color creates a bright and fun swirling presentation.  A refreshing afternoon pick-me-up that the whole family can enjoy.

What you'll need: serves 4

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 ripe Mango (skin removed, cut in small cubes)
20 oz tonic water (or carbonated water) 5 oz per glass
1 cup half and half

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil, to make the simple syrup.  Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 mins) remove from heat and let completely cool.  In a blender, puree the mango until completely smooth.  Add 1/2 cup of the cooled simple syrup and mix until well incorporated.  Any leftover syrup could be used later for an after dinner cocktail.  :)

Fill four tall glasses with ice, then divide the mango puree evenly into all four glasses over the ice.  Add the tonic water and stir well.  Top each glass with a 1/4 cup of half and half.  Stir slightly for a swirly effect.  Slip in a straw and slurp away.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pizza Quesadilla

By now, many of you know... if I wasn't Italian, I would be Mexican!  Not only does their culture adore their family like Italians, but their cuisine is absolutely addicting, comforting and mostly gluten free friendly.  Since the new diet, I've sadly steered away from Italian Restaurant outings, because many of them have not jumped on the GF trend here in Southern California.  So I was excited to learn that I could create a meal at home that satisfied my pizza cravings by combining corn tortillas with my favorite pizza toppings - mozzarella, spicy pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms and bell peppers.  With the perfect blend of classic Italian flavors and an earthy Mexican twist, I give you my version of a hearty GF Pizza Quesadilla!

What you'll need:  serves 4

Sauteed Mushrooms and Bell Peppers:
2 tbsp butter
1 red bell pepper (julienned)
1 green bell pepper (julienned)
1 small pkg button mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 cup white wine

Pizza Quesadilla:

Corn tortillas
1 stick spicy pepperoni (thinly sliced then halved for easier eating)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Your favorite marinara for dipping

In a large pan over medium heat, start melting the butter.  Add the bell peppers first and cook for about 5 mins (they take longer to cook than the mushrooms).  Then add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 mins until they both start to soften and slightly brown.  Pour in the wine, stir and cook for a remaining 5 mins.  Remove from heat.

 In a separate medium size pan over medium heat, build the quesadilla.  Put in the corn tortilla and layer on the toppings, starting with the mozzarella then the pepperoni and veggies and finishing it over with another layer of cheese.  Close the quesadilla with another corn tortilla.  Flip when the bottom tortilla is golden brown 3-5 mins.  Cook on the other side for another 3-5 mins.  Cut in half with kitchen sheers and serve with a side of marinara.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chocolate Basil Ice Cream

It's not usual for me to want to eat my ice cream with herbs, but I was completely enthralled and inspired by a Chocolate Basil Sorbet I had the chance to enjoy at the end of an elegant dinner during the International Food Blog Conference in Portland.  I immediately knew that I had to try a version of this at home, especially since my family and I are obsessed with basil.  And we're starting to find out that it doesn't just taste good on pasta!  In this particular recipe, the basil is a surprising afterthought.  Because this dark chocolate ice cream is rich, the slight peppery aftertaste will make your guests go, "What is that...?".  This Italian herb instantly turns a plain ole chocolate ice cream into something more exciting and intriguing!  So, if you don't have an ice cream maker at home, it's not the end of the world (you can make it work).  But, if it weren't for mine, this hot and humid summer would have seemed much longer!

What you'll need: makes 1 quart

2 cups water
2 cups half and half
3/4 cup packed basil leaves (bruised)
1 cup super fine sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 tsp lemon zest
Fresh basil for garnish

In a medium saucepan over low medium heat, combine water, half and half and bruised basil leaves. Bruising the leaves help relieve it's peppery juices.  Steep for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture just starts to bubble.  Don't allow it to boil.  Remove from heat, strain out the basil leaves and toss.

Return the saucepan to low heat and pour in the fine sugar (dissolves faster than regular granulated sugar), cocoa, and salt. Whisk until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, Kahlua and lemon zest, combine.

Chill the mixture until cold (freezer works - about 1 hour, just don't forget about it!). Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacture's instructions. The ice cream will be soft!  Transfer into a freezer safe container and let harden for 4-6 hours.  If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a freezer safe container and freeze until completely harden, 6 + hours.  When frozen, scoop into a bowl and garnish with fresh basil.

Recipe Adapted from here.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Another Taste of Portland

 Remember how I was raving about how great Portland, Oregon is about being gluten free friendly?  Well, not everyone has jumped on the GF bandwagon yet, but I have to give Voodoo Doughnut props for at least being vegan friendly.  It's fun and unique places like this that make me forget that I'm not supposed to be eating gluten, but I'm going to blame it on the Voodoo Doll Doughnut... he made me do it.

I never ever thought I would stand in line for 30 mins for a doughnut, (but again I'll blame the Voodoo) and it was completely worth the wait.  You almost need that amount of time just to figure out which doughnut out of dozens of flavors you're going to choose.  Do I want a cake doughnut or a raised yeast doughnut? Bacon or Chocolate?  Glaze or Tang Dust?  Cream or Jelly?  The options are endless and I bet you'll never be able to leave without ordering more than one!  My mom and I finally decided on three : Voodoo Doll, Mango Tango and McMinnville Cream.

 And to make the wait more fun, their brick walls are covered in glitter!  Very pretty and very distracting...

We took our pink box filled with doughnuts (saving for an afternoon snack) and headed over to Kells Irish Pub, where I had the tastiest Shepard's Pie filled with ground beef, peas and carrots and topped with crispy cheesy mashed potatoes!  Can't wait to try my own version soon.  My stomach got the better of me and I forgot to snap a shot.  I might also have been easily distracted by the money on the ceilings.  When we asked how it got up there, they claimed it was from "Irish Magic".

Portland was quite an adventure and the food was excellent.  Next stop, Chicago.

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